Success the world round for Irish showjumpers

Bertram Allen, Richard Howley and Shane Sweetnam were all succesful on Thursday

From the Middle East, through Europe and on to the United States, there were wins for Ireland’s senior show jumping riders on Thursday.

Wexford native Bertram Allen was first to strike when landing the 1.50m speed class on crowd favourite Molly Malone V at the five-star Al Shaqab show in Doha, Qatar.

Second-last to jump, the Germany-based rider stopped the clock on 57.70 with the 13-year-old grey Kannan mare which is owned by his family’s Ballywalter Farms. Leading up to that point, France’s Roger Yves Bost had to settle for second with Qoud ‘Coeur de la Loge (58.04) ahead of Swiss rider Pius Schwizer on Balou Rubin R (58.06).

Earlier in the day, Allen had announced the retirement from competition of the 19-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion Romanov (an eye-catching chestnut son of Heartbreaker) on which he took over the ride from owner, and fellow Irish international rider, Billy Twomey in 2013.


The combination enjoyed their most successful season in 2015 when winning the World Cup class at Bordeaux and the Champions Tour Grand Prix in Paris. They were also on the Irish team which won that year’s Nations’ Cup for the Aga Khan trophy at the Dublin Horse Show.

Competing at four-star level, Ireland’s Richard Howley also won a 1.50m speed class in Vejer de la Frontera in south-west Spain.

Drawn 15th in a class of 70, the Co Sligo native set a time of 59.38 on Neil Robinson’s 10-year-old Holsteiner stallion Calmond which no one came close to beating. After a long wait, Howley was confirmed the winner with Spaniard Julio Alvarez Moya some way adrift in second on G&C Quitador Rochelais (63.82). Belgium’s Jos Verlooy finished third with Caracas (64.17).

By a narrower margin, Cork’s Shane Sweetnam won round eight of the Winter Equestrian Festival challenge in Wellington, Florida with and his own and The Blue Buckle Group’s Cobolt.

Another 1.50m speed competition, the class attracted 59 starters of which 10 went clear. Sweetnam’s time of 69.13 with the 11-year-old Cyklon gelding was enough to secure him the honours with the host nation’s Todd Minikus back in second with Valinski S (69.91). Jeroen Dubbeldam of The Netherlands filled third place on SFN Zenith (71.43).

This evening Sweetnam will be out to help Ireland defend its title in the Nations’ Cup at Wellington where the team has been drawn fourth of eight to compete.

Attending a Horse Sport Ireland reception on Wednesday evening, team manager Michael Blake named his team and order to jump as Sweetnam (Chaqui z), Paul O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu), Conor Swail (Rubens LS La Silla) and Cian O’Connor (Seringat).

Co Clare’s Blake, who was also manager when Ireland won the Nations’ Cup at Ocala two weeks ago, said: “The team has two new combinations from the team that was successful in Ocala. We field a very strong team here in Wellington with all horses showing excellent recent form. We are aware of the stiff competition we face on Friday night and also the huge support in Wellington for the Irish team.”

Wednesday evening’s reception was held to recognise the contribution made by owners to Irish equestrian teams and to acknowledge the great support that the Irish equestrian community have received in the USA once again this winter.